Name: Aqib Talib
Height: 6’1" Weight: 205 lbs
Age: 31 Experience: 10th
A year ago there was serious speculation that Aqib Talib might get cut.
Mind you this came from fans and some in the media, but it was thrown out. A lot. This idea was even thrown out in February. The thought went that if the Denver Broncos cut Talib, it would save money on the cap and it wasn’t like they were in a bad way at the cornerback position. There also was the shooting incident in Dallas last offseason that followed him like a lost puppy. The question often asked about Talib: Is he worth the hassle?
There was a slim-to-none chance that Talib would get cut, but he slammed the door shut on that talk with the season he had in 2016. Talib was the best cover corner in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Talib didn’t give up a touchdown all season, had three interceptions (one for a pick-six), 32 tackles and surrendered a passer rating of an incredible 49.5. As one person said on Twitter, Talib took more shots at himself than opposing quarterbacks. Even gold chains were no match for Talib, as the Oakland Raiders Michael Crabtree can attest to in the last game of the season.
As we inch closer to the start of the 2017 season, the least of the Broncos’ concerns come in the secondary. This is the No Fly Zone, after all. The one and only that is patrolled by two of the best at their position, Chris Harris Jr. and Talib. For Denver to make a return trip to the AFC playoffs, Talib will play a huge role.
He’s the best coverage cornerback in the best secondary in the league.
It doesn’t get better than that.
Some may question if he can follow up his 2016 performance with a redo. How about this curveball: What if Talib gets even better in 2017? If Denver gets the run defense figured out, he will.
The lone, possible negative for Talib is out of his control - age. And even that isn’t much of a concern right now given he just turned 31 in February. So there’s still a few years before the inevitable decline starts. See: Champ Bailey.
There was also talk of any lingering health issues from 2016, but you don’t get the sense from Talib there is any concern. One aspect that is clear since he arrived in Denver is he busts his ass when it comes to preparation. That was in exhibition prior to the start of a training camp practice last year when Talib was running the hill on the west side of the practice fields at the UCHealth Training Center.
Some may mention his penchant for stupid penalties and losing his temper now and then, but that’s more of a positive for this defense. You need guys to have that attitude and swagger, and Talib has both in droves. Think of Talib as this unit’s Lyle Alzado. Both guys could snap at any moment but contribute to their respective defense in a way that is immeasurable.
As it stands two weeks before the start of training camp, Talib has stayed out of trouble. We can all hope that remains the case and he stays away from Dallas over the next 14 days.
On the vibe Talib gets from the team:
“I feel like our urgency is there. In all honesty, I don’t think our urgency was there last year. We were kind of in recovery mode the whole offseason. Our urgency is there. I think that is where it starts. We’re going to work. It’s just about how urgent we are. I feel like the urgency is definitely there.”
Talib will remain the best cornerback in the NFL this season. Though I have suspicion Harris will push Talib for that title. Either way, Talib is a must-watch player who can change the course of a game at any moment ... positive or negative.
Now if someone could ensure Crabtree wears another gold chain on Oct. 1.